Keto Diet – Are You Doing It Right?

It sounds so easy. Eat lots of fat and a good amount of protein, get rid of almost all of the carbs, and the pounds will melt off. The keto diet may not be the most enjoyable way to lose weight if you love your sweets, but the way it’s usually described it sounds nearly foolproof.

Sadly, that isn’t always the case.

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There are some people who adjust their eating plans to focus on fat and protein, ditch the carbs – and still find that they’re not dropping weight they way they expected.

“This isn’t the diet they promised me!”

Actually, it’s almost never the diet’s fault; usually it’s “user error.” Here are the main reasons why some people have trouble losing weight after beginning a ketogenic diet.

What’s Supposed to Happen on a Keto Diet

Keto is designed to produce a specific reaction in the body, and it’s based on science and biology. That means if you actually follow the diet the way it’s intended, it’s going to work.

When you eat “normally,” the body takes the carbs that you eat and converts them to glucose, to be used as energy. Anything that’s left over is stored as fat. But when you cut carbs down to 5% of your daily calorie intake, the body has to find a different energy source.

What it does is take stored fat and convert it into molecules called ketones, which are then used as “fuel” for the body’s metabolism. That’s why you lose weight on keto: your stored fat is being burned. When the body switches to this secondary energy source, it’s said to be in “ketosis,” the biological goal of the keto diet.

So that’s the science – and for most people who follow the diet, it works.

Why wouldn’t it work for you? If you have a problem it’s almost certainly because you’re doing something wrong.

Why Am I Not Losing Weight on Keto?

There are a number of common mistakes that new keto dieters make. Some of those mistakes can short-circuit the diet and prevent the weight loss dieters expect.

You’re Not Really in Ketosis

Guidelines are just that, guidelines. They’re meant to give you a good idea of how to proceed, but they’re not hard-and-fast rules that apply to every individual. So if you’re using the general rule-of-thumb of 20 grams of carbs per day, or simply estimating how many carbs would make up 5% of your diet, your estimates may be wrong or your body may be responding differently than most.

The best way to find out if you’re actually in ketosis (if you’re not going to buy an expensive home blood tester or have your doctor do a blood test) is to use home test strips which check for the presence of ketones in your urine, or a ketone breath analyzer which does much the same thing. If you’re not really in ketosis, you can make the necessary adjustments that we look at next.

You’re Eating Too Many Carbs, Too Much Protein or Not Enough Fat

Getting your mix of micronutrients (approximately 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbs) wrong can easily knock you right out of ketosis, preventing the keto diet from doing its work.

Eating too many carbs will definitely prevent ketosis, since the body is never forced to burn stored fat for energy. Even if you think you’re doing things right, you may be getting hidden carbohydrates from vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli, high-carb fruits, or “sugar free” artificial sweeteners like mannitol and sorbitol. Review your eating plan carefully to make sure the foods you think are low in carbs really are.

Many erroneously think you can eat all the protein you want on a keto diet, but that’s not true. Keto is a moderate-protein diet, not a high-protein one. Too much protein and your body will start converting it into glucose, taking you out of ketosis. Be sure you’re eating reasonable amounts of high-quality protein, but don’t overdo it.

Finally, when you don’t have enough fat in your diet you’re not going to feel full, causing you to eat too much. That could force your body to look to the protein in your diet for fuel. As you’ve just learned, when the body is converting protein into glucose that means you’re no longer in ketosis.

The answer to these potential problems is to carefully track what you eat on a daily basis, with an app or an online keto diet tracker.

You’re Eating Too Much or Too Little

Just because you’re on a keto diet, that doesn’t overrule the basic rules of nutrition and physics. Eat too many calories, and there’s no way you’re going to lose weight. That’s particularly an issue with a high-fat diet like keto, because fat generally has twice the calories as carbs or protein.

If you don’t consume enough calories, the body thinks it’s in “starvation mode.” That leads to a slowing of your metabolism, followed by the use of protein for energy and a fall out of ketosis. It also makes you excessively tired.

A calorie counter app, either stand-alone or combined with a keto diet tracker, can help ensure that you’re getting the right number of calories for your body weight and type. Eating whole, natural, quality food can also make a big difference.

One cheat for all of these problems that many people swear by is consuming a small amount of MCT oil. This oil is absorbed by the body in an unusual way, going right to the liver where it’s converted to ketones – telling the body that it should be using ketones for energy, rather than converting carbs or protein into glucose.

There’s a reason we mentioned earlier that you’re almost certainly doing something wrong if you don’t lose weight on keto. Occasionally, your body is actually to blame. Here’s a look at those possibilities.

Leptin Resistance

Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells. It has several jobs, but one of them is to tell the brain when the body has enough stored fat to generate the energy it needs. In other words, it sends a signal to the brain to stop eating.

Some people have a condition called leptin resistance, which prevents the brain from receiving the “stop eating” signal and leading to overeating. This condition is one of the reasons why some people become obese, and it can override the effects of any diet, including keto. In fact, the more you weigh, the more likely it is that you have some degree of leptin resistance. Ironically, the weight you’re trying to lose by dieting may be stopping the diet from working.

There are a few methods that may circumvent this Catch 22, reducing your leptin resistance enough to let you lose weight. The best are to get plenty of sleep, lower your anxiety levels and exercise more. A healthy lifestyle is one key to reducing diet-induced inflammation, which is believed to make leptin resistance worse.

Other Medical Conditions

On occasion, food allergies or intolerances can interfere with weight loss by creating that same problem with inflammation inside the body. Conditions like hypothyroidism, hyperinsulinemia, PCOS and depression, when undiagnosed and untreated, can also cause “unexplained” weight gain despite any diet you may be on.

If you’ve ruled out all other possible reasons why you’re not able to lose weight on keto, it’s time to see your doctor, find out if there’s a medical reason why you can’t lose weight – and have that condition treated.

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